19 October 2014

Imagine a world...

Where all the world's films and TV shows were available through a single outlet. Subtitled in different languages, even dubbed if you want that. Where gargantuan servers were not needed to store every single film or show. Where you didn't get Netflix's favourite phrase "Items related to X". Where you pay a single monthly fee to gain access to all this cultural richness (and the stupid stuff). Media from the very start of cinema up to modern-day blockbusters and ratings earners.

Best of all, where this wasn't illegal?

The music industry went through a huge turmoil over the last couple of decades confronted with the pervasiveness of the net and visual media is going through the same now as bandwidth increases dramatically (in the next few days, I'm upgrading to a 1Gbps download/300 Mbps upload fibre service that is cheaper than my 2Mbps/.2Mbps ADSL service was). BitTorrent is the bĂȘte noire of all media, but its brilliance is in how it uses everyone's power together to distribute everything.

It is a commonly-held truth that people who indulge in piracy are also some of the greatest purchasers of media at the same time. You might argue that they test the waters by downloading copiously and pick and choose what they want to support with their money. I myself may have downloaded the odd album or film, usually when it's not easily available in any other form or I've been in a hurry, but it has never prevented me from buying said film, TV show, CD or book.

Imagine if these media hoarders were rewarded in some manner by opening up their presumably immense storage to others to make everyone's downloads that bit faster? Where serious collectors of German Expressionism could make their passions available to a larger audience. Let's further imagine a scenario:

You pay a monthly €/$/£ 20 fee. You can download what you like, legally, for that money and the money gets distributed in some fashion to rights owners. If €/$/£ 20 seems too expensive, restrict it with a lower cost offer, say €/$/£ 10 but no HD, or €/$/£ 5 where you can only get three items per month.

For every byte you upload, because you are effectively part of a BitTorrent network, you get paid (somehow) €/$/£ 0.00000000001 (for every GiB you upload you earn €/$/£ 0.01). Rather than spending money trying to punish people you reward them for helping. Heck, the biggest hoarders with the biggest pipes might even turn a profit on the deal, but then if they do the service to all the other users gets that much better.

Stop the vicious circle and turn it into a virtuous one. Like Cory Doctorow says "Copying stuff is never, ever going to get any harder than it is today" (http://craphound.com/littlebrother/about/). The Internet is a wonderful thing, let's make it work for us.